Review: 30 Days of Night

Graphic novels being adapted into feature films has become all the rage these days. Hollywood continues to churn out films that most would consider “drivel,” so it makes sense that Hollywood would go for the stories that are already successful. This trend is most recently continued with the big screen adaptation of 30 Days of Night. I’ve yet to read 30 Days of Night (written by Steve Niles), as its multiple books (much like Sin City, there’s isn’t just “one” story), but the movie was admirable. Spoilers are peppered throughout, so you’ve been warned.

As far as staying true to the source material, well, I can’t really vouch for that (see above). But as far as vampire movies go, I was pleasantly surprised. The film tells the town of Barrow, Alaska, the northernmost city in the United States. Offsetting the fantastic ability to live so far north is the fact that thirty days every winter, the sun doesn’t rise, since it’s so far north (you can begin to see why vampires would be drawn to this location). Josh Hartnett plays the small town sheriff Eben Oleson, recently estranged from his wife Stella, and the authority in Barrow. The movie starts with most of the town leaving for the impending 30 days, and giving you the sense of what life is like before and during the month of no sun.

We’re given the obligatory romance backstory, where we find out that Stella doesn’t want to talk to Eben, which lead to their estrangement. Slowly, weird things start happening. It starts with a stranger causing trouble at the diner, as he’s looking for a place to get some raw hamburger, but of course, isn’t served any (what kind of country do we live in if a man can’t get raw hamburger in a diner). Eben is called in, and arrests the stranger, while not heeding his warnings of the impending doom. Then the power goes out, leading Eben to discover the impaled head of Gus, the utilities manager. After that, well things just go from bad to worse.

Most of the movie plays out with a small group of survivors hiding in an attic, as the stairs to it don’t look noticeable unless you know its there. The vampires were actually pretty intelligent, and the lead vampire told the vampires to “remove the head from the body,” so as not to create any new vampires. The interesting thing is that the movie doesn’t really characterize the vampires through dialogue (as only the main one really speaks), rather, through their actions and unknown location. They’re simply roaming through the city, looking for the remaining survivors to pick off and eat.

The mood is definitely atmospheric, as you kind of sense the doom that the survivors are facing, and with most vampire movies you have the solace of day to get you through the night, however here its always night. The entire movie had a very I Am Legend feel to it, with the survivors moving during the cover of snowstorm and hiding and what not from the vampires. The ending was a also a surprise that I certainly didn’t see coming, and it ended the movie on a relatively creative note.

One of my problems with the movie was that randomly they would tell you how many days were left, which was fine I suppose. They couldn’t really show every day (a la 24), so I suppose that’s forgivable. Also, the vampires were something of epileptic spazzes, in that when they found a victim and attacked, they would gyrate violently while enjoying the blood. I guess it added a bit to the frenetic intensity of the vampires, but it was just kind of weird.

Overall, the movie was decent. Not the best vampire movie, but certainly not the worst. I didn’t really know what to expect going in, but I was pleasantly surprised. It wasn’t that scary really; there were some intense moments, but other than that not much. I’d say check it out, but you may not like it as much if you’ve read the book and it doesn’t quite match up to it.

Overall Score: 60 out 100